Wednesday, March 11, 2020


Revelation is just weird. There, I said it. We've all thought it. It's hard to follow. First, there are letters to the churches, then all this talk about angels and beast. There are seven seals and seven trumpets and four horses of different colors, each with its own rider. If you struggle with all of this, know that you're not alone. It's totally okay to be a bit (or a lot) confused.

Still, there are some things that tend to jump out, and these things are worth looking at a little more closely. One of those things is what happens when the seventh seal is opened.

There are seven seals, and the first six seem to go pretty quickly. The first one unleashes a warrior who goes to earth and wins battles. The second took away peace and made humans slaughter one another. The third measured out true weights (which is likely equated to justice). The fourth killed a quarter of the earth through famine, war, plagues, and wild animals. The fifth honored the saints and clothed them in white. The sixth shook the foundations of creation - the sun, the earth, the moon, the mountains until all the people of earth hid.

And then, at the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for a half-hour (Revelation 8).

The first six seals are about things that happen to the earth, but the seventh brings our focus back to heaven. The first six deal with human beings and human things. The seventh? Not as much. Revelation moves quickly to the seven trumpets that break the silence and what those mean, but let's not skip over the silence so quickly.

The seventh seal tells us that God is going to do something so incredible that even heaven doesn't know how to respond to it. Or maybe silence is their response. Everything stops. Everything stands still. All of creation - heaven and earth - holds its breath for what God is doing.

Is it fear? Awe? Honor? Grief? Any or all of these things would stop us in our tracks. Any or all of these things would make us silent for a moment. We say that in heaven, there won't be any grief, but doesn't the sin of earth break heaven's heart? It's impossible to say what makes heaven fall silent at the seventh seal. That's essentially all of the information that we're given about it.

But it also reminds us that heaven is a noisy place. There's a lot of stuff going on up there. Things are happening. Noise is the byproduct of both work and freedom, and these things are essential for understanding what heaven is. It's not this place where we are all held captive on our individual little clouds, playing harps and praising God for all of eternity. It's this place where there is holy work to do, where there is freedom to grow and nourishment to the full potential of who God created you to be.

This silence that Revelation mentions, we read right by it. Just as we look right past silence in our own world. It's just a sentence or two. And then we're on to trumpets and proclamations and noise and life as we know it. The's just an interruption. It's 'nothing,' so we read nothing into it.

But the silence is important. It tells us something about the noise. It tells us something about God. God brought the full force of these six seals onto earth and then at the seventh, there was silence. In heaven.

That's not nothing.

It's something. 

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